Versatile star

Versatile star One often comes across vendors selling fruit chaat comprising pieces of roasted sweet potatoes and star shaped slices of a fleshy yellow fruit, which tastes like lemon, pineapple and apple. The fruit is commonly called carambola or star fruit (when cut crosswise, its slices look like stars, and hence it is called star fruit). It is called kamranga in West Bengal and kamrakh in northern parts of India. Its scientific name is Averrhoa carambola L.

It has been cultivated in Southeast Asia for centuries. It grows well in tropical lowland climes and is available from August to March. Its flowers are small and pink, having dark red centers. Carambola can be propagated through seeds or grafting; its trees bear fruits within 10-14 months of planting.

Carambola has multiple uses. The ripe fruit is used to halt hemorrhages. The dried fruit is used to treat fevers; a salve made of its fruits relieves eye afflictions. Crushed leaves and shoots are used as poultices for skin diseases like chicken pox and ringworm. The roots mixed with sugar are used as an antidote for poison.

The versatile fruit can also be processed into pickles, sauces and jellies. It is a very good source of vitamins and has low carbohydrate and fat content(see: What Kamrakh offers).

Jonaki Ray is a freelance writer

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